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Roman Carnelian Intaglio Depicting Dionysus - FJ.6383
Origin: Syria (Damascus)
Circa: 1 AD to 200 AD
Collection: Roman Seal Ring/ Intaglios
Medium: Carnelian-Gold

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This intaglio is set in an 18 karat gold ring

The art of glyptics, or carving on colored precious stones, is probably one of the oldest known to humanity. Intaglios, gems with an incised design, were made as early as the fourth and third millennia BC in Mesopotamia and the Aegean Islands. They display a virtuosity of execution that suggests an old and stable tradition rooted in the earliest centuries. The tools required for carving gems were simple: a wheel with a belt-drive and a set of drills. Abrasives were necessary since the minerals used were too hard for a "metal edge. A special difficulty of engraving intaglios, aside from their miniature size, was that the master had to work with a mirror-image in mind.

Born from the thigh of Zeus, Dionysus was one of the most elusive of all Greek gods. He was perceived as bath man and animal, male and effeminate, young and old; always on the move riding felines, sailing on the sea, flying on wings and of course indulging in great festivities of wine. On this very fine intaglio the nubile god is seen naked holding auto a spear with one band and a bunch of grapes with the other. A tree drooping with great bunches of grapes bends over the deity's head. The rich natural color of the carnelian adds further luster and sensuality to this most sensual of mythical gods. - (FJ.6383)

 

 

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